The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of this Saturday’s World Cup final clash between the Boks and England in Yokohama.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants the Boks to block out the noise and stick to their gameplan.
Does it matter how the Boks win on Saturday? Has the style of play ever mattered in a World Cup final?
There’s been a lot of criticism of the Boks’ kick-chase tactics of late. While it’s true that the Boks have not capitalised on the bulk of their attacking chances, it’s hard to find fault with their tactical intent.
The team that makes the fewest mistakes at the Yokohama Stadium on Saturday will win the World Cup. The Boks have the personnel and the game plan to pressure England into errors and improve their chances of claiming the title.
Craig Lewis (editor) hopes the Springboks win the World Cup.
I’m sneaking in with this wish before any of my colleagues! Immediately after the Boks’ victory over Wales in the semi-finals, I wrote that Rassie Erasmus’ team were already winners.
At the end of the day, the Springboks have exceeded expectations of most by just reaching the title decider, and have undoubtedly already restored pride in the Bok brand.
Yet, having got this far, the two-time world champs have a golden opportunity to add another Webb Ellis Cup to their trophy cabinet. The Springboks are still to produce a perfect 80-minute performance in a big game at this World Cup, and there is obviously no time better than now.
Flying into the final under the radar is an ideal scenario for the Springboks, and what an opportunity they have to unite the nation with a World Cup success against the odds.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) wants the Bok players to stay composed and keep their cool.
South Africa and England have a few hotheads in their side; guys that can easily be provoked into a fight. But with so much at stake, neither team can afford to concede unnecessary penalties or, worse yet, cards.
England have a tendency – with captain Owen Farrell front and centre – to goad the opposition into punch-ups and then complain and claim innocence. A perfect example would be the incident between Farrell and the All Blacks’ Sam Whitelock in the semi-final last week.
With 13 minutes remaining, New Zealand had a golden opportunity to close the gap thanks to a breakdown penalty that would have taken them deep inside England’s half. But Farrell made a nuisance of himself on the ground, resulting in Whitelock punching him in the face. The penalty that the All Blacks needed so badly, was reversed and England were relieved of the pressure.
Those are the subtle things that England do to gain an advantage. I just hope the likes of Eben Etzebeth, RG Snyman, Malcolm Marx (all known offenders when it comes to needless squabbles) and, to an extent, Faf de Klerk, stay focused on the task at hand and walk away even if they are goaded (and heaven forbid tempted) into getting involved in off-the-ball scuffles.
It will be difficult enough for the Springboks to beat this well-coached England side without the added pressure that comes with ill-discipline.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes Willie le Roux comes good when the Boks need him most.
There has been plenty of debate over Le Roux’s form over the past month, but one thing that the Bok fullback has shown is that he is a big-game player. Despite his struggles, Le Roux has still been heavily involved in Springbok tries against Japan and Wales.
If Eddie Jones has been watching the last couple of Bok games, he will probably tell Owen Farrell and George Ford to put Le Roux under the high ball whenever possible.
The World Cup final offers the biggest stage for Le Roux to come good. Simply put, Le Roux is a class player and is far too good to let the Boks down on Saturday.
John Goliath (senior contributor) wants Handre Pollard to take charge in the final.
It’s really been the Faf de Klerk show for the Boks. The scrumhalf is the primary playmaker, with the box kick the preferred mode of attack for the South Africans.
Pollard plays a bit-part role, mostly supporting the fullback in the back play to field kicks, while on attack inside centre Damian de Allende is used to run into the vacuum to the get the Boks on the front foot.
Besides his awesome goal-kicking, Pollard wasn’t great for about 55 minutes in the game against Wales. His tactical kicking was off, while his distribution was also poor.
I think Pollard is the type of player who needs to be given that responsibility to run the show to be at his best. He needs to feel the ball in his hands. He is not a great supporting actor, and that has been clear for most of this World Cup.
When he started to get his hands on the ball against Wales, he ran hard at the Welsh and gave them something to think about defensively. It was his initial bust that led to De Allende’s try.
Hopefully Pollard gets into the game a lot more, because he can be a factor with his physicality with ball in hand, especially running into a vacuum featuring George Ford and Owen Farrell. It will give him confidence and hopefully get the best out of him as a playmaker and general in the final.
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